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“Let the Stable Still Astonish”

December 22, 2009

Every year around Christmas, this poem flows into my mind, swirling ’round and round as Advent invites me, past all my busy-ness and penciled-in schedules, to a place where the coming of God speaks unending wonder into my life. In the midst of all of that, these words never fail to move me.

It comes from a book called Light from Heaven, which is part of a series by Jan Karon about an Episcopal priest who lives in a small North Carolina mountain town called Mitford. My mother introduced me to these books and for months I staunchly refused to read them because I considered them to be “old lady books.” (Sorry Mom, you aren’t an old lady.) Finally, a few years ago, I picked up the first one during the boredom of an unemployed autumn and unwillingly found myself the newest devoted citizen of Mitford. Despite their middle-aged appearance, they are warm and beautiful, settling in my chest like hot tea and good company.

Anyway, the poem comes from that book and I must say, I did not copy down the author in my notebook, so I cannot cite it properly. But in any case, here it is:

Let the stable still astonish
Straw — dirt floor, dull eyes
Dusty flanks of donkeys, oxen;
Crumbling, crooked walls;
No bed to carry that pain
And then, the child,
Rag-wrapped, laid to cry
In a trough
Who would have chosen this?

Who would have said “Yes,”
“Let the God of all the heavens
And earth
Be born here, in this place”?
Who but the same God
Who stands in the darker, fouler rooms
of our hearts
and says “Yes,”
“Let the God of Heaven and Earth
be born here —
in this place.”

I pray you will let these words move you and push you forward, sprawling, into the dusty starlight that penetrates the stable walls, revealing to us our Mighty God, Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace. His love for us was so immense yet so personal that it crescendoed in the cry of an infant, cradled in a cold feeding trough, whose name was Emmanuel, God with Us. In this place of dirt and dust, devoid of all of the earthly trappings of a king, God humbly presented Himself in a way that proclaims He is close, He is here and He is love.

“Yes, let the God of Heaven and earth be born here, in this place.”

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Grandma Carr permalink
    December 23, 2009 10:40 am

    Caroline…I too am a Mitford groupie. Jan Karon speaks to all ages as loving God and serving Him is the privilege of us all. You have given me more lovely thoughts for this Holy season. Love you….Grandma

  2. Caroline permalink*
    December 24, 2009 11:39 am

    @ Grandma!

    I’m glad we can be Mitford groupies together. 🙂 It was so good to see you last weekend and spend time together. I love you so much!

  3. December 31, 2009 7:43 pm

    I am thankful to read your Christmas reflections. For some reason, the realization of the incarnation has been especially awesome (in its true sense) for me this year. 🙂 Happy New Year!

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